Romans 3:21-31 – The Faith of Jesus (Bible study notes)

For the video teaching to these notes click here:  Romans Bible study – week 5 – Justified by Jesus faith

  • 3 years ago I saw the word ALL in Luke 6:19 … and Jesus healed them ALL.  
    • That relatively small word jumped off the page
  • I was teaching healing at the time and that one small word started setting people free, shackles of religion falling off their minds
    • they had been believing that the healing they needed physically was never an absolute yes from God but a “maybe” – they were never sure if it was God’s will to heal.  
    • As I began teaching the ALL included in healing and that healing and wholeness was ABSOLUTELY, ALWAYS God’s will for ALL, I began see healings manifest as they grabbed hold of that word ALL…. cancer, broken bones made whole, heart defects, words spoken for the first time, etc.  
  • So began my love for the word ALL…..
    • the nice thing about ALL in Greek and Hebrew is it means exactly that – ALL!  There is no way to misinterpret it
    • I started to notice all in other Scriptures… like:  Eph 4:6 One God and Father of ALL who is over ALL and through ALL and in ALL;  Eph 1:3: He has blessed us with ALL spiritual blessings; 2 Peter 1:3: He has given us ALL things that pertain to life and godliness; 2 Cor 5:14 For the love of Christ compels us, having concluded this, that One died for ALL, therefore ALL died;
    • I began to realize that the finished work of Jesus did it ALL and He did it for ALL
    • not when I believe it… but when He did it at Calvary
  • Tonight’s verses are also about the ALL


  • Paul began this letter telling us about the good news, but then he gives us 1:18-3:20 to tell us just how bad things were before the Cross.  
    • How mankind was hopelessly and helplessly separated from God and there wasn’t any thing he could do about it.
    • It’s kind of like after introducing us to the Gospel in chapter 1, Paul said “Wait a minute. I don’t think you appreciate this. Let me tell you the bad news. The bad news was the desperate condition of all mankind — Jew and Gentile.”


  • Romans 3:20 ends with For on the ground of obedience to Law no man living will be declared righteous before Him. Law simply brings a sure knowledge of sin.
    • another Translation says:  Therefore, toiling in the law renders no man righteous in his awareness: for through the knowledge of Moses’ law, is recognition, discernment, knowledge and affirmation of good and evil and a strong sense of separation from God.
    • Mankind was unable to become righteous through his own efforts,  he was living under the bondage of sin and condemnation, and separated from God!
    • So a great chasm lies between v. 20 and 21…. How do we bridge the gap? How can we go from one side to the other?
    • We can’t. There is nothing we can do.
  • Then he says 2 beautiful words….“But Now”
    • But now…. that tells us something changed
    • But now throws mankind a life preserver of hope!


3:21-26 NKJV: But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, (22) even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;  (23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (24) being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, (25) whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, (26) to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.


  • v. 21 says God’s righteousness is revealed APART from the law being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets
    • He didn’t make righteousness available if we will “do” something.  
    • He didn’t make righteousness a possibility… available to us only if we will pray a prayer, “repent” and confess our sins, go to church, become morally right, etc.
    • His righteousness is revealed APART from the Law — apart from any action on our part.
    • Gal 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
  • In Greek the word for righteousness is dikaiosune, from dikay, that which is right; it is a relationship word and refers to two parties finding likeness in each other.
    • Righteousness points to harmony in relationship — reconciled.
  • v. 22 says the righteousness of God, (was revealed) through faith in Jesus Christ
    • through is a Greek preposition, dia, meaning on account of, by reason of, and indicates thoroughly or successfully
  • The Greek doesn’t say faith in Jesus — it says pisteos Iésous Christou — Jesus Christ’s faith (it is a genetive case in Greek – He possesses faith)
    • God’s righteousness is revealed (tangible and brought to light) through Jesus’ faith – not ours
  • the rest of the verse says: toward all who believe. For there is no difference
    • toward is eis – a preposition indicating a point reached in conclusion – finished; nothing to add.
    • all is ALL — emphasizing the inclusion of ALL mankind
    • and upon all isn’t in the Greek
  • believe is a present active participle indicating a continual or habitual believing
  • What does believing look like?
    • believe is pisteuo in Greek which is the verb form of the noun “faith”
    • A good definition would be faithing!
    • Galatians 2:20 tells us what “believing or faithing” looks like:  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
  • Paul uses the word believe in Romans 10:11 linking it to an Old Testament Scripture
    • He would’ve used the Septuagint and it used the word aman in Hebrew — so I thinki it’s fair to assume that to Paul “believe” and “aman” were the same thing.
  • aman in Hebrew means firm, established, true, to uphold and nourish;
    • First time it’s mentioned is in Genesis 15:6 talking about Abraham – in fact it’s the Scripture that Paul will use in the next chapter of Romans.
    • The metaphor of aman is that of a man leaning all his weight on something strong
    • the root of aman is to turn
      • Gal 5 — it is NO LONGER I who live ;this life I NOW live – indicates a turn
    • To Paul pisteuo meant trust not an agreement or intellectual assent; not agreeing with whether something is true
  • The righteousness of God is revealed through Jesus’ faith…. it’s His faith that I rest in.  
  • This new covenant life is all CHRIST in me — it’s His obedience not mine.  It’s His righteousness not mine. It’s His holiness not my own…. why would faith be any different?  
    • It is His faith that embraces and undergirds me… my believing is simply saying “not I but Christ”… even in my act of faith!
    • It’s His faith that persuades me about my righteousness


  • v. 23 – for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God
    • Paul is saying all humanity was in the same boat; their distorted behavior is proof of a lost identity…. they forgot they were image and likeness bearers of God!
  • We usually stop here at v. 23 and use it to describe mankind’s current condition
    • But the good news of the Gospel is found in v. 24
    • if we focus on v. 23 by itself it keeps us sin conscious
    • linking it with the good news in v. 24 keeps us righteousness conscious — keeps us focused on Jesus and what He alone did.
  • Paul is talking about the ALL… he started in v. 22…. God’s righteousness through Jesus’ faith toward ALL (pantes in Greek)
    • then he said there is no distinction — no division of mankind (i.e. Jew and Gentile), he is referring to ALL
    • v. 23 says ALL (pantes in Greek) have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God which flows right into v. 24 saying that the all in v. 23 are the all that are justified in the next verse
    • v. 24 — being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
    • this same ALL are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
    • Because the whole world (all mankind) was guilty before God, He provided one way of salvation for everyone.
    • In the same way that everyone was guilty, so everyone has already been justified freely by God’s grace.
  • Gal 2:16 tells us how men were justified — By the works of the law? No. By the faith of Jesus Christ.
    • Not by faith in Jesus Christ — our faith doesn’t justify us, His did
    • His faith persuades us about what God knows to be true about us — we are justified
    • and then we are free to live this new life IN HIM by His faith (Gal 2:20)
  • This is the heart of the gospel, God did IN CHRIST what man could not do  ALL have been made righteous… made right with God.
    • 2 Cor 5:18:  Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation
  • ALL fell short because of Adam; the same ALL are equally declared innocent because of Christ!
    • The law reveals what happened to mankind in Adam;
    • Grace reveals what happened to the same mankind in Christ.
    • There is no distinction – all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God – now they are all justified freely as a gift through the redemption [the liberating action] of Jesus Christ!


  • Romans 4:25:  He was delivered over to death for our trespasses and was raised to life for our justification.
  • Why was Jesus handed over to die? Because of our sins. Why was he raised from the dead? For our justification!
    • His resurrection reveals our righteousness!
    • His cross = our sins; His resurrection = our innocence!
    • for in the verse is dia (same word in Rom 3:22) meaning on account of, by reason of, and indicates thoroughly or successfully
    • If we were still guilty after Jesus died, his resurrection would neither be possible nor relevant!
  • Paul proclaims to a group of idol worshipping Greek philosophers, in Acts 17:31: that because human life is the offspring of God, and in the light of what happened to mankind in Christ, God now urgently implores all of mankind everywhere to awaken in their understanding “because God had fixed a day on which he would judge the world righteous by a Man whom He has appointed, and of this He has given proof to all mankind by raising Him from the dead!”
  • The gospel announces our redeemed identity and innocence!
  • This is what the teaching of righteousness is all about!

verses 25-26:  whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, (26) to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

  • Jesus exhibits God’s mercy…. His covenant love towards mankind
  • In His blood conciliation, God’s faith persuades mankind of His righteousness and the fact that he has brought closure to the historic record of their sins.
    • He did this not by demanding a sacrifice but providing the sacrifice of himself.
    • Jesus is the unveiling of the Father’s heart towards us.
    • Instead of us persuading God about our sincere intentions this is God persuading us of His lavish love for us
    • God does not demand a sacrifice that would change the way He thinks about mankind; He provides the sacrifice of Himself in Christ in order to forever eradicate sin-consciousness from our minds and radically change the way we think about Him, one another and ourselves!
  • Heb 8:12:  For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
    • Mirror: This knowledge of me will never again be based on a sin-consciousness. My act of mercy, extended in Christ as the new Covenant, has removed every possible definition of sin from memory!
  • v. 26 doesn’t say faith in Jesus in the Greek but rather faith of Jesus – just like in v. 22.
  • All along God refused to let go of mankind.
  • He demonstrated His righteousness in that He was Just and the Justifier of ALL through the faith of Jesus — that faith persuades us that we have been justified and reconciled to God.
  • like we said earlier…. It is His faith that embraces and undergirds me… my believing is simply saying “not I but Christ”… realizing I am righteous because of His faith… I am reconciled because of His faith.
    • It isn’t true about me because I “believe” it…it is true whether I do or not.  
    • I don’t become justified when I pray the prayer or “repent” of my sins.
    • We were justified through Jesus’ faith (v. 22)… God reconciled the world to Himself in Christ on the Cross (2 Cor 5:18)
    • We have always been justified and reconciled… we just haven’t always been aware of it.  


  1. 27-30: Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. (28) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (29) Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, (30) since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.


  • mankind is justified by God’s faith and not by their ability to keep the law — their performance or self efforts
  • The law of faith cancels the law of works which means there is suddenly nothing left for anyone to boast in. No one is superior to another.
  • There is no longer and us and them from God’s perspective…. not Jew and Gentile not even church and non church people
  • There are just those who have awakened to the truth that they are reconciled to God and are now living their life IN HIM — by His faith
  • and there are those who haven’t YET awakened — our job (2 Cor 5:18-19) as ministers of reconciliation is to tell them the good news – they’ve already been reconciled 2000 years ago!!
  • Our cry needs to be Awake, awake to righteousness — wake up to who you are IN CHRIST!


  1. 31: Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.


  • We have to remember Paul is talking to a transitional generation – those alive before and after the cross
    • The purpose of the law was to point them to Christ (Gal 3:24)
    • The law was never for us “gentiles” — it was only for the Jews (Deut 4:4; Lev26:46) and only until Christ came (Gal 3:24)
  • In Romans 4, Paul goes on to use two great men of the Old Testament, one before the law and one under the law (Abraham and David) as examples of how justification came through faith, not through the Law.


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